Originally published July 1, 2009 at 11:19 p.m., updated July 1, 2009 at 11:19 p.m.
While it has never seen a Stateside release until now, The Legendary Starfy has seen success in Japan since its beginnings in 2002. What started as a Game Boy Advance series that Nintendo execs deemed "too Japanese" for US audiences has finally found its way onto American DS systems. After playing through the game, it makes me wish they would have taken this chance sooner.
It would be easy to classify The Legendary Starfy as a side-scrolling platformer, but its not exactly about platforming in the traditional sense of the word. The majority of the game (especially near the beginning) focuses far more on swimming than running around on land. You play as Starfy, a star that is visited in his underwater palace by a bunny in a space suit. I know at this point that the "underwater star creature visited by space bunny" premise has been used countless times, but The Legendary Starfy holds on to a certain amount of charm and humor.
None of the levels are straightforward side-scroller fare. Each one is packed with secrets, twists and turns, unlikely encounters, boss battles, and alternate paths. You'll dart through the water with Starfy's star dash, defeat enemies while running around on land, ride on geysers or gusts of wind, and team up with your sister Starly if you've got a friend with a DS.
The entire game world is incredibly vivid and looks fantastic on the DS. It's mostly sprite-based, but elements of 3D are thrown in from time to time. All of the characters are well-drawn and their dialogue is usually pretty humorous (despite the fact that the game can get a little verbose at times).
There are tons of secrets and collectibles to be found within The Legendary Starfy, making it a replayable and long-lasting experience for a game of its type. It may not reach the brilliance of the Mario sidescrollers, but it's about as close as you can get. Here's hoping for more Starfy titles in the future, and possibly re-releases of the ones we never got to play here in the States.
First Play: 9.0
Replay Value: 8.5